– Staff Writer – The Hill
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said Friday that she knows the Senate immigration bill is "not going to move in the House" and expressed fears that conservative Republicans will block any House legislation from proceeding.
But Ros-Lehtinen nevertheless is hopeful that Republicans can pass some sort of border security bill that would allow a comprehensive immigration reform deal to be struck in conference committee.
"I do support it but I understand that bill is not going to move in the house," Ros-Lehtinen told CNN. "We're hoping that any bill will pass in the House so we can go into conference with the Senate, and then out of that conference will be a balanced bill."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will only proceed with immigration bills that have the backing of a majority of his Republican majority, dimming the prospects for the legislation that passed the Senate in a 68-32 vote on Thursday.
Ros-Lehtinen said she was most concerned that warring factions within the House would block any bill from proceeding, preventing a possible conference committee compromise.
"My fear is this -- that the more conservative members of our party will vote no because they worry about any bill getting into conference, even though they may agree with that border security bill, and many Democrats may vote no because they want to deal with the 11 million undocumented first," she said.
"We just need to get to conference and try to negotiate compromise."
The Miami Republican admitted that it would be a "very difficult" tightrope to walk, but said conservative Republicans felt the need to ensure border security protections after an immigration bill signed during Ronald Reagan's presidency failed to stop illegal immigration to the United States.
"We've got to make sure the American people trust and believe and we can prove to them that there will be border security," Ros-Lehtinen said.
It would appear as though Sen. Schumer and his “Gang of 8” had better be prepared to dig in their heels and get ready to do battle with the House if they want their version of an immigration reform bill to come out of conference looking anything like it does now. There is no doubt that there will be many amendments offered and many concessions made before a bill that is acceptable to both the Senate and the House makes its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. There are only two things that we can be sure of at this point: 1.) There will be some type of resolution to the plight of the undocumented currently living here in the U.S. This is a problem that some of us who work with them have tried to keep as our top priority from the very beginning. We have felt very strongly that legislation to address future flows of immigrants could and should come after the plight of the undocumented is permanently resolved. 2.) The United States of America as a sovereign nation has every right, as well as an obligation to her citizens, to insure that no measure is spared in this age of international terrorism to secure her borders against unwanted and unwelcome intruders. In my view as well as that of many other immigration reform advocates, everything else is on the table and subject to negotiation and compromise.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America